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Braids of Action

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Smokin' hot and ready to kick some ass!

One of the common ways to visually indicate that a female character is an Action Girl or otherwise ready to get dangerous is to braid her hair. This can take one of the following forms, but not limited to:

  • Two braids on the sides of the head, reminiscent of the classic Tomboy hairstyle. This version can overlap with Girlish Pigtails.
  • One long braid in the back. This version tends to be much longer, sometimes even touching the ground.

Some characters will wear their hair in braids all the time. Others will only wear them in combat. Both instances fit this trope. However, Action Girls who usually wear their hair in a braid but let it loose when getting into an actual fight don't fit.

This trope is used in fiction for two reasons. First, because tying your hair in a braid is a good way to keep long hair out of your face, as ponytails tend to slide down or get snagged in really physical sports. Second, because it is visually cool. What better way to indicate movement than a long flowing strand of hair flailing around like a whip? Due to this visual aspect, Braids of Action will more often than not be given to girls that have an acrobatic fight style.

Some works will take the visual similarity between a braid and a whip to literal extremes, and will have the character top her braid with some sort of weighted blade and use her Prehensile Hair as a weapon. Note that while this is technically possible in real life, the way it is normally depicted would very quickly result in hair loss. The more accurate depictions have a character with braided dredlocks doing this: which is much safer. The dredlocks serve to distribute the weight better, so that it doesn't rest on any single strand of hair. Augmenting braids or twists starting at the hairline, can serve a similar function. It still tends to work best with very tightly curled hair, since this hair has a higher spring factor: which helps to keep it from snapping when the blade is swung (similar to how bungie cords can bear more weight than typical cords of their diameter, because they are made of springier material). Note also that doing this can be very hard on the neck and shoulders: hair does not have any muscles in it, so what is actually bearing the weight is your neck muscles. Long hair is heavy enough to begin with, adding weight to it requires training your neck muscles. A much more common real life way of hiding a weapon in long hair is to put a spike on the root of a single long braid pointing upwards, so that when you headbutt someone it really hurts. Especially in the era of veils, this was a literal example of Silk Hiding Steel. It's a strangely effective weapon, since you can put your entire body's muscles behind it: and it can be used even if you are bound and gagged.

This trope was very common for long-haired characters in the early days of 3D gaming since it's much easier and less resource-intensive to render and animate long hair as a braid than having it flow freely. Even with modern video hardware and physics engines, braids are still easier for a game to manage.

A Truth in Television, although not to the extent that it's portrayed. A long braid is still a long thing dangling around, getting in the way, and able to get caught by accident or grabbed on purpose. Wearing long hair up—such as a bun, or a crown braid—gets it more fully out of the way.

Compare Braids of Barbarism, Tomboyish Ponytail, Girlish Pigtails (which can sometimes be combined with this trope in the case of a Little Miss Badass), Bald Head of Toughness (in which baldness is also often used to indicate that a female character is an Action Girl).

Contrast Motherly Side Plait, which is indicative of a sweet mother figure.

Note: This trope is for using visual shorthand for characterization. It is not a trope for every character who happens to have braids. Please remember this when editing the example list.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Charlotte Roselei from Black Clover has a single braid hanging down the left side of her face, and she's the Captain of an all-female squad of Magic Knights.
  • Bleach:
    • Sui-Fon wears two braids wrapped in white cloth or ribbons, with metal rings at the ends (which she does not use as weapons). As a member of a military organization, this is justified.
    • After Arrancar Ggio Vega releases, he gains a blade on his braids.
  • Gender Inverted with Hanzo of Brave10. His braid is so long he can wear it like a scarf and he's the most deadly fighter in the series.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Gender Inverted with Edward Elric. He usually ties his hair in a braid and is quite the badass.
    • Izumi wears her hair in what appears to be multiple braids. She also taught Ed and Al both to fight and to use alchemy.
  • When Nuriko gets into some real action outside the palace in Fushigi Yuugi, he puts his hair into a single long braid. It's telling how he cuts his braid off just before the action... stops.
  • Golden Kamuy: Sofia has worn a long braid in the back since she became a revolutionary leader in her youth. Of course, she's more than capable of taking care of herself in a fight.
  • Elsa de Sica in Gunslinger Girl has twin braids. Averted with the rest of the cyborgs, whose handlers are more interested in making them look like adorable little girls than Action Girls so their targets won't suspect them.
  • Jolyne Cujoh in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean has braids around her Odango Hair and a long braid in the back—fitting for an Action Girl and the main JoJo of the part.
  • Miu from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple may seem like an example of this trope, but the main reason why she wears her hair in a single braid (and wears glasses) is to tone down her appearance in school. A straighter example happens during the Tournament Arc, where she wears her hair in multiple braids, some of them even looped.
  • Vita from the Lyrical Nanoha franchise keeps her hair braided to remind the viewers how Badass Adorable she is.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Universe:
    • The Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect: Rick Jones' granddaughter Janis grew her hair long, tied it into a braid and wrapped it around the top of her head so that she can untie it and use it as a whip when she needs to.
      "It takes a long time to dry after washing it, but it's worth it."
    • The Mighty Thor: Valkyrie wears her hair in two braids in most of her incarnations.
    • Played with by Laura Kinney a.k.a. X-23. In X-23: Innocence Lost and flashbacks to Target: X, she typically wears her hair braided on missions. This ceases after she escapes from the Facility, as during a Funny Background Event in one of her early appearances in the X-Men books, Laura can be seen struggling to emulate Psylocke while the latter casually and expertly braids her hair preparing for a coming fight. Once the fighting actually starts it's revealed she failed miserably and settled for a messy ponytail instead. Apparently, she never got the hang of braiding her own hair and doesn't bother asking someone else to help do it for her, as she's pretty universally drawn with her hair loose in all of her appearances.
    • X-Men: Psylocke often wears her hair in a braided ponytail when going into a fight. One issue in the Savage Land shows her plaiting her hair in preparation for battle while calmly discussing the plan with an ally.
  • Rapunzel in Rapunzel's Revenge uses her two (extremely long) braids as a whip or lasso, or for any number of other Action Girl applications.

    Fan Works 
Crossover Discworld
  • Most of the Lady Assassins in the Discworld fiction of A.A. Pessimal style their hair this way. Partly for neatness and professional reasons—they are also teachers at the Assassins' Guild School—but also because it gets in the way while fighting. Johanna Smith-Rhodes, from the faraway colony of Rimwards Howondaland, favors complex braids in the Kerrigian style whilst her colleague Miss Alice Band normally prefers a strict bun.
Dragon Age: Origins
  • Gwenith Cousland in Dragon Age: The Crown of Thorns. She used to wear her long hair loose (it reached the waistline) but soon settled on a braid on the left side of her head, hanging in front. And she looks like Claudia Black. Badass much?
The Hunger Games
  • In Some Semblance of Meaning, Phlox is described as wearing her hair in multiple braids, and she definitely deserves Action Girl status. Her stealth and wits keep her alive well into the 44th Hunger Games, and she certainly has guts: lurking around on the outskirts of the Careers' camp and sneaking supplies from them. Eventually, she even manages to trap Obsidian, the Career with the highest score in the Games, in one of her snares and steal his backpack full of supplies, leaving him with nothing but the clothes on his back and his sword. She would have killed him, too, if he hadn't managed to cut himself free; even then, she managed to outsmart him and escape to safety.
Naruto Pretty Cure Skylanders Sailor Moon Touken Ranbu
  • The defining physical characteristic of Ōtengu Masaie in Tales of the Undiscovered Swords is his blond hair braided into a fancy crown around his head. He wears it in battle and refuses to let his hair down even in bed.

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • Helga Sinclair from Atlantis: The Lost Empire.
    • Frozen:
      • Anna wears her hair in braided Girlish Pigtails for the majority of her screentime, including informal occasions like helping Kristoff fight off wolves, or being chased by Marshmallow.
      • Elsa wears a French braid over her left shoulder for the majority of her screentime after "Let It Go," including challenging two of the Duke of Weselton's guys.
  • Astrid and Ruffnut from How to Train Your Dragon.
  • Jessie from the Toy Story film series has one long braid of red wool underneath her cowgirl hat, though her hair remains the same whether or not she is fighting someone.
  • Played for Laughs in the first Shrek movie, where Fiona takes on a band of ruffians in the forest all on her own, Matrix-style, and actually knocks one of them out with her braid.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Cosmic Sin (2021). Sol Cantos (played by Lana), the Elloran soldier who wields a BFG, has braided hair colored a bright yellow. This makes her stick out somewhat in the woods, but from appearances the unit she is with are Mildly Military.
  • Downfall. The female Child Soldier manning the 88mm gun has twin braids hanging down from under her steel helmet. In this case, the braids work more to emphasize her youth.
  • Gender Inverted in The Duellists. The protagonists are Hussars who wear elaborate plaits in front of the ears to reduce the damage of sword wounds to the head.

  • The Afterward:
    • The female knights usually wear their hair in one or more braids. Kalanthe also has a hair spike to stop anyone grabbing hers while in battle. It's enchanted to kill anyone but her who touches it too.
    • Olsa gets hers put into cornrows when Uleweya notices she's grown her hair out, who's got a similar style (both are black women, judging by their descriptions, and the book cover in Olsa's case).
  • In the Artemis Fowl series, Juliet Butler wears her hair in a single long braid with a stone ornament on the end that she can swing around and use as a weapon.
  • In The Bridge Kingdom Archives Lara and her sisters, who are all trained warriors, wear their long hair braided when they get into action. And let it down when they need to be seductive.
  • The cover art of Ciaphas Cain: Choose Your Enemies depicts Colonel Regina Kasteen, CO of the 597th Valhallan Regiment, with her red hair in a pair of waist-length braids down her back.
  • In John C. Wright's Count to the Eschaton, Chimerae put their hair up in braids when going into battle and comb it out again afterward.
  • ''Dark Shores: Young women who form princess Malahi's guard usually wear their hair long and braided, although some cut it short and the giantess Bercola shaves her head.
  • Emberverse: Dies the Fire by S. M. Stirling. An Action Girl keeps her braided Girlish Pigtails as they help to lower the tension a notch when meeting new clans and negotiating safe passage through their territory.
  • In the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede, Cimorene wears her hair in a braid and is a formidable princess.
  • Kid Detective Flavia de Luce wears her hair in two neat braids to keep it out of the way during her adventures, but also because she thinks it looks nice on her.
  • Forest Kingdom: In the Hawk & Fisher spinoff series, Isobel Fisher is described as wearing her hair in a French braid with a heavyweight at the end, for use as a weapon.
  • When Honor Harrington finally grows her hair long, she starts to wear it in a braid, in part to make it easier to wear a spacesuit helmet when doing her job. Note that in addition to her tactical acumen, she's a veritable giant of a woman, and with an eighth-degree black belt in a coup de vitesse is one of the deadliest characters in a melee.
  • Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games has her signature braid down the back to keep it out of the way when hunting or fighting.
  • Kate Daniels wears her hair long as the sole nod to feminine vanity—but acknowledges that her braids are cumbersome, annoying when she runs, and could easily provide a handhold for an enemy in a fight.
  • Kitty Norville has one, if the book covers are to be believed.
  • Tamara Rajavi from The Magisterium is an Action Girl whose hair is almost always worn in two braids.
  • Of Fire and Stars: Tomboy Action Girl Mare often puts her hair in a single braid.
  • Gender Inverted with Prince Roger. He has gorgeous blond, hip-length hair and has to ask a female marine to teach him how to braid it.
  • The Derzhi from Rai Kirah are a Proud Warrior Race and their men wear their hair braided.
  • In Rainbow Magic, the leader of the Rainbow Fairies, Ruby, wears a braid with roses stuck in it.
  • In Patricia C. Wrede's The Raven Ring, the Cilhar—who are warriors, one and all—wear their hair braided as a matter of course, with a special braid pattern for when they expect to be heading into battle.
  • Star Wars Legends: Tash Arranda of Galaxy of Fear keeps her hair in one neat braid.
  • The Mord-Sith of the Sword of Truth novels are an entire army of Action Girls who wear their hair in a single long braid.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Warrior queen Visenya Targaryen famously wore her hair in a single long braid. She is contrasted with her sister Rhaenys, in their Tomboy and Girly Girl dynamic.
    • Queen Rhaenyra wore her hair in a braid like Visenya. Rhaenyra wasn't actually a warrior herself, but she was a fan of Visenya and wanted to style herself after her.
    • Tales of Dunk and Egg. In "The Sworn Sword", Lady Rohanne Webber is a Fiery Redhead who dresses in armor when leading her troops to attack Standfast. She wears her hair in a single long plait which she plays with coquettishly while flirting with Dunk. At the end of the story after much Belligerent Sexual Tension, Dunk refuses her offer of a fine steed but cuts off her braid so he'll have something to remember her.
  • Tales of Inthya: Orsina is a female knight and a paladin. She has her hair in a single braid.
  • Tortall Universe: Beka Cooper, a Provost's Guard aka cop, wears her hair in a braid. She even has a spiked strap worked in so that those that make the mistake of grabbing her braid in a fight quickly learn to regret it.
  • Birgitte, the legendary archer from The Wheel of Time sports a waist-length intricate braid that's known in-universe as one of her most easily identifiable features.
  • In The Wishing Maiden, Bron, the most physically powerful woman of the Quintet, wears her hair in a braid.
  • Gender-Inverted by Fingon in The Silmarillion. All elves are LongHairedPrettyBoys, Fingon wears his nearly black hair plaited with golden ribbons. It's a signature style of his, enough that he can be recognized by it even when armored. This either means that most male elves don't braid their hair (despite how impractical that would be) or more likely that they don't usually include ribbons. As to why Fingon does this, it's never explained: but a good guess is that he's best friends with the only character specifically described as sexy Maedhros.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On The 100, braids are common among both male and female Grounder warriors, and Octavia starts braiding her hair when she tries to join them.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The titular character occasionally wears her hair in two braids when on patrol.
    • In "The Wish", her battle-rugged, even more badass alternate universe counterpart wears her hair in a single long braid.
  • The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance: Mayrin deals with the going ons of all the clans, has the last say, and wears a braid on the back of her head.
  • On Game of Thrones, Daenerys' hairstyle slowly became more and more braided as her character grew stronger and more authoritative throughout the first season. By the season finale, her hair is in a single thick braid. This is likely linked to the Dothraki custom of warriors braiding their hair and decorating them with bells. A warrior adds bells to his braid for each victory, and, should he be defeated in battle, the braid would be cut off so the world can know his shame. Daenerys takes to adding bells in her hair when she triumphs in later books. Most of her hairstyles incorporate four or more braids in elaborate styles.
  • Gotham Knights (2023): Harper is an Action Girl like the rest of the main female characters who starts to wear her hair in two braids after joining up with Turner and co.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Galadriel styles her hair in a long thick braid during battles.
  • In Merlin (2008), Morgana braids her hair when she goes on a mission to protect Merlin's village.
  • Jules wears her hair like this in Psych when there is ass-kicking to be done. She normally wears it in a bun or in a ponytail.
  • The Princess Wei Young: Jun Tao almost always wears her hair in braids, and she's an Action Girl who can fight off a group of guards.
  • Reservation Dogs has Willie Jack, the Lad-ette of the Rez Dogs gang. She's more than willing to scrap with the rival NDN Mafia, enjoys hunting, and wears her hair in two long braids.
  • In Spartacus: Blood and Sand Naevia's hair evolves with her story. When she was still a body-slave she had long, loose hair. When she got cast away her hair was cut as punishment. By Spartacus: War of the Damned her braided hair shows her development into an Action Girl.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise: During the third season Xindi arc, one of the female Space Marines (played by a stuntwoman in a non-speaking role) had a long single plait down her back.
  • The Wheel of Time (2021): Egwene wears a long braid down her back as a symbol of her initiation into the Women's Circle. Before long she's thrust into adventure and proves herself an Action Girl.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • 21st Century Fox, Monique Mercy and Amazing Kong are known for wrestling in cornrows. There are also male examples such as Elijah Burke, JTG and Slam Master J.
  • Jacqueline Moore (AKA Sweet Georgia Brown, AKA Miss Texas, AKA Miss Tennessee) frequently braided her hair whenever she wrestled though there were some times when she wrestled with it in a ponytail or something instead.
  • Jumping Jeff Jeffrey of La Rabia and La Zona Illegal has wrestled in various styles of braids.
  • Kyra had one long braid specifically to invoke Lara Croft.
  • Madusa sometimes wrestled with her hair in a braid, but would just as often have it down. Her arch-rival Luna Vachon eventually took to wearing multiple braids when it grew back after their hair vs hair match.
  • WWE Diva Sable in her first run in the company always had her long blonde hair tied back in a braid whenever she wrestled. It was safe to say that if her hair was down then she wouldn't be wrestling.
  • Shawn Michaels had a braided mullet at the 1994 Survivor Series.

  • Westeros: An American Musical: When Mance's army is shown, one of the women standing in for the troupes is holding a bow and wearing a braid in her hair. To someone familiar with the original story, the woman is recognizable as a Demoted to Extra Val, one of the Action Girl characters.

    Video Games 
  • Advance Wars: All three known Lazurian COs in Days of Ruin / Dark Conflict have a very thin braided ponytail, and judging by the fact that the generic Lazurian soldier portrait doesn't have one, this seems to be a cultural mark of status exclusively for commanding officers in the Lazurian army.
  • Detroit: Become Human: North, one of the android rebel leaders, initially wears her hair in a manner to downplay her appearance, but adopts a long braided style as their movement grows and becomes involved in a civil war.
  • Dragon Age: Gender Inverted with Oghren in Dragon Age: Origins. He wears his beard in thick red braids, which is not unusual for dwarf men.
  • Eco Fighters: Neneh wears her hair in braids and is as determined as her brother Ice to stop Kernal Goyolk's destruction of their planet.
  • Braids are a hairstyle option for both male and female (humanoid) Dovahkiin in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
  • Sarah Barn from Golden Axe III has one long braid that reaches to her waist. She's also an Amazonian Beauty who can throw giants with ease.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess:
    • Ashei, the lady knight, wears her glossy black hair tied in two braids.
    • Princess Zelda wears one long braid in the back and has a slim braid on either side of her face. She does get in on the action as part of the endgame.
  • Purple Heart from the Neptunia games grows long hair tied into braids upon transforming from her goofier, short-haired human form.
  • Velvet Crowe of Tales of Berseria starts with a single braid—she regularly hunts in the woods and studies the sword—but it's much looser for the rest of the game to reflect her more violent and out-of-control nature after her brother's death. The player immediately has the option to change her hairstyle back, though.
  • Julia Chang from Tekken, specifically from the fourth game onwards. Before Julia, it was her adoptive mother, Michelle, who sported braids.
  • Lara Croft of Tomb Raider fame sports a ponytail that reaches down to her torso, though later games would shorten it. The reason Lara doesn't have one in the first game outside of FMVs was due to limitations of the game engine.
  • Groma from Triangle Strategy wears her hair in a long braid. Fitting, since she's a martial artist who needs to keep her hair out of the way, and she's quite well-known in Aesfrost for her battle prowess.
  • Lenneth from Valkyrie Profile has a long silver braid that reaches past her back.
  • Both Virginia Maxwell and Rebecca Streisand of Wild ARMs 3 and Wild ARMs 5 respectively, sport these.
  • Petula from You Are Not The Hero has her hair braided on both sides of her head.

    Visual Novels 
  • Saber from Fate/stay night wears a braided bun, which doesn't look like it should be possible with the amount of hair she's shown to have when it's down since it only goes down to her shoulders. It also looks like it would be able to fit under a helm, which would fit with Saber's background as King Arthur.
  • Peko Pekoyama from Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair wears her hair in two braids, and she's a kendo champion.
  • Tyrna in Sword Daughter has waist-length hair which she describes braiding to put up under her helmet when she dresses for battle. Her character art in the VN shows her wearing it in two braids coiled up at the back of her neck.

  • Gunnora of Alfdis & Gunnora is a soldier and wears her hair in two braids. This is a contrast to Alfdis, who wears a ponytail.
  • Invincea from Invincea And The Warriors From Hell has a long braid as one of the defining traits of her character design.
  • Royal Blue: Acantha can take down an entire ship by herself and has a long braid.
  • Unsounded: Having her hair in a braid ensures Mikaila can keep it out of the way and tucked up into her cap as she serves secretly in an army that does not allow women to join, without cutting her hair into a boyish style.

    Western Animation 
  • Arcane: When Powder grows up into the Cute and Psycho teenager Jinx, she wears her hair in a couple of blue braids that go down to her boots.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television in the sailing community. Suffice to say it's difficult to keep shining, silky soft locks while crossing an ocean. The constant spray of saltwater can dry out your hair so much you can easily tear it with your hands. You'd think having perpetual windswept hair would be cool, but in reality, it just tangles your hair into a painful, jumbled, knotted rat's nest. On long ocean voyages, supplies are bound to get low, so washing one's hair is bumped down to Priority Number 3,942. Crew members (male and female) frequently will go 1-2 weeks without washing their hair, and when they do it's sometimes done with dishwashing liquid. When they simply can't stand losing their hair, braids of action is the second most common hairstyle for women sailors, after the bob or pixie cut.
  • Female skydivers braid their hair. It won't tangle with the rig on opening and it is practical while wearing a helmet.
  • Female kendo practitioners braid their hair in their helmets.
  • The Bolivian ladies, known as "cholitas", who braid their hair in long braids before they get into wrestling rings and beat the crap out of each other. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Hair regulations for many women in the military (when the hair doesn't have to be cut) say that it must be worn off the shoulders and out of the eyes. Although it's usually worn in a Prim and Proper Bun, some women are allowed to have their hair in French braids.
  • The "braids at the temples"-style (also known as "cadenettes") was commonly worn by French Hussars during The Napoleonic Wars. Nearly all European sword styles of the time taught some form of a horizontal cut to the temple, so the braids were a way to get some protection from that style of cut.
  • Female boxers and martial artists—as well as the few men in the sport with long hair—often braid their hair to keep it out of the way during fights, cornrows being the most popular style for this.

Alternative Title(s): Action Braids